Summer reading? (or listening?)

Hey, btw, has anyone been reading god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens? I wasn’t going to read it, but I got a free download from Audible just before my trip, so I nabbed Hitchens’s book. Wow, I’m totally impressed and have been enjoying it completely. The book is funny, insightful, articulate, and searing. He reads it himself, also, and is an excellent reader. He reads as if he is talking to someone, rather than droning along in a monotone the way so many authors read, requiring them to hire professional readers to record their audio books. So you get the intonation and emphasis that the author intended, and more of a feeling of their personality, which is exactly right for this type of book.

There’s a detailed overview of the first several chapters on Wikipedia, but here’s the basic contents:

Chapter 1: Putting It Mildly
Chapter 2: Religion Kills
Chapter 3: A Short Digression On The Pig [An excellent short chapter.] Chapter 4: A Note On Health, To Which Religion May Be Hazardous
Chapter 5: The Metaphysical Claims of Religion Are False
Chapter 6: Arguments From Design [After this pt Wikipedia just lists the chapter titles.] Chapter 7: The Nightmare Of The Old Testament
Chapter 8: The New Testament Exceeds The Evil Of The Old One
Chapter 9: The Koran Is Borrowed From Both Jewish and Christian Myths
Chapter 10: The Tawdriness Of The Miraculous And The Decline Of Hell
Chapter 11: Religion’s Corrupt Beginnings
Chapter 12: A Cods: How Religions End
Chapter 13: Does Religion Make People Behave Better?
Chapter 14: There Is No “Eastern” Solution
Chapter 15: Religion As An Original Sin
Chapter 16: Is Religion Child Abuse?
Chapter 17: An Objection Anticipated
Chapter 18: A Finer Tradition: The Resistance Of The Rational
Chapter 19: In Conclusion


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. I used to never give audio books a thought, but in the past couple of years I bumped into a couple of really great ones.

    The first was the Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy, as read by Douglas Adams himself. I shouldn't need to mention why that was totally awesome.

    The second was World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars. It's heavily abridged and still covers about five CDs. However, it uses the "interview" format of the book to great advantage by having an entire cast, each one representing one of the characters as they tell their story. It doesn't hurt that said cast includes Mark Hamill and Alan Alda.

    Anyway, on Hitchens' book. I thumbed through it when I was in Vegas a couple of months ago because one of my co-workers had mentioned it briefly. It did seem pretty excellent, and I guess it's something I'll have to check out. Maybe I'll go with the audio book after all, so I can listen during my commute. I do take books with me, but sometimes they get in the way when you're surrounded by five hundred other people packed into a subway car.

  2. In the middle of reading it right now. I picked it up at a bookstore in the rural Nebraska town I'm living in for the summer. I was actually surprised they even stocked it. I'm enjoying the book quite a bit. Is it just me, or are British intellectuals quite witty in their writing?

  3. It looks as though Hitchens removed the part about Orthodox Jews having sex through a hole in a sheet, which was briefly discussed here some time ago.

    You should see the email I got from my downstairs neighbor about it! I asked him, “Look, someone’s told me this is an urban legend. There’s a film about it, there’s a book about it. How come only now, when I mention it in passing, does it suddenly become such an issue?” His email was wonderful—about three pages worth—including the possibility that some mad rabbi in some shtetl maybe did say something like that.

    But I’ve changed it. It’s not in the book now, not in the new editions. And I wish I hadn’t put it in. It was absolutely in passing, and I didn’t need it. When I think of the mikvah, and other Orthodox teachings about women, some of them very obscene, I could have made it much harsher.

    (See mikvah on WP, which for some reason reminds me of the Thetis and Achilles story.)

  4. Blake, has the book been reprinted already? (I'm not surprised to hear that, or that it's in a Nebraska bookstore since it's #2 or 3 on the best seller lists. Even Nebraska stores can't ignore that. Ultimately it's all about making money for bookstores….)

  5. I read it and loved it. Total page-turner. I only wish he had gone after Bush and his administration for being Thumpers, but then he would have had to go into the whole Iraq thing and he's in favor of that. All in all though it, and the debates he's had in promoting the book, are fantastic. You know, in my opinion.

  6. It's easy for witty folks like Hitchens to write books like this. I respected him more, though, before he started giving draconian justifications for the invasion of Iraq and showed his geo-politically repugnant colors.

    Just goes to show you, you can be a brilliant atheist, skeptic, whatever… and still have your head totally up your ass.

    I'm an atheist doing graduate studies in religion. Further, I believe that theism is, ultimately, a delusion; and I get the whole argument about how God and Religion are divisive forces that perpetuate superstition, enmity, socio-cultural homogeneity, xenophobia and a whole host of other grotesqueries… got it. GOd and Religion – Bad. Rationalism and secular humanism – Good. got it. Similar to TV bad, Books Good, right?

    MASSIVE YAWN – I understood that in 9th grade without Hitchens. Now what? Hitchens' reductionism doesn't add anything to our knowledge about how to solve these rather pervasive socio-cultural issues.

    back to the peanut gallery,


    ps. sarva mangalam.

  7. pps.

    I just started downloading podcasts of The Skeptics Guide and just had to put a face with Rebecca Watson's sultry voice and biting humor. Smart nerdy dryly sardonic chicks drive me f'kn mad.

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